A guide to the New East

On thin ice: we rode a delivery truck 730 km along a frozen Siberian river

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As a photographer and RFE/RL reporter, Amos Chapple has travelled to some spectacular places, from a Buddhist monastery nestled in the Ural Mountains to rural Georgia, which he photographed by drone. In 2016, he took on one of the scariest assignments of his life, joining a truck driver on a 12-day journey transporting food supplies from Yakutsk, in north-eastern Siberia, to Belaya Gora, situated further into Russia’s Arctic North. Temperatures in the Sakha Republic can plummet to -50C at this time of year, meaning roads are slippery and the engine must keep running throughout the night. What makes the route even more treacherous is that half of the journey involves driving on the Indigirka River, which turns into an ice highway each winter. Even without having to haul 12 tonnes of food, falling through the ice is an inevitability. Journeying through gleaming white hills and dazzling Northern Lights, read on to follow Amos and the crew’s own brush with thin ice.

A version of this article first appeared on Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty — on the front lines in the fight for media freedom.

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